(RICHMOND, VA – July 3, 2007) For those who love soy sauce and are living on a wheat-free diet, there’s good news. San-J’s Organic Wheat-Free Tamari, both the regular and low sodium varieties, are now certified by the Gluten-Free Certification Organization. Earning the GFCO’s seal in 2006, San-J’s Organic Wheat-Free Tamari varieties have been shipping with the new label sporting the GFCO’s mark since the beginning of 2007. For many Americans, this means they can pour on the flavor with confidence.
However, for those individuals suffering from extreme gluten sensitivity, it’s important to note that consumer products carrying the GFCO seal are not necessarily 100% gluten-free. The GFCO allows 10 parts per million of gluten in its certified products, which is minimal but may be too much for some individuals. San-J, in keeping with its high standards, also tests its own products for gluten -- its lab reports indicate that the Organic Wheat-Free Tamari gluten parts are under or at 5 parts per million, below the GFCO’s standard. San-J also emphasizes to consumers that its brewery is not a “dedicated” facility, which some highly sensitive diets require.
San-J first launched its Wheat-Free Tamaris in part to meet the needs of people with food sensitivities. Renowned for its purity and outstanding flavor-enhancing qualities, San-J’s full line of tamaris are Kosher and the products’ labels already carry the kosher certified symbol by Circle U.
According to Jennifer Stoltz, Marketing Manager of San-J International, “The GFCO is gaining recognition, and we sought the certification in order to better communicate with the growing number of Americans who have wheat-free diets. The new GF symbol, or mark, on our tamari bottles should aid people in their shopping. We hope it makes it easier for our customers to maintain their health.”
What is a Gluten-Free Diet?
For medical reasons, people adopt strict gluten-free diets and wheat-free diets due to celiac disease, gluten intolerance, dermatitis herpetiformis, wheat allergy, and other health issues. When those living on gluten-free diets refer to gluten they mean that they avoid eating harmful peptides that occur when gluten proteins break down during digestion. These are found in cereal grains such as rye, barley and wheat and anything derived from these. (Oats are under debate.)
Perhaps best known among the group of gluten-related ailments is celiac disease. It is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the small intestine in genetically susceptible individuals. Ingesting certain proteins, commonly referred to as gluten, triggers inflammation. According to celiac.com, a Web site resource, the average diet contains roughly 10-40 grams of gluten. This amount includes eating one piece of bread, and, yet for people suffering from celiac disease, even the smallest amount of gluten (1/48th of one piece of bread) has been shown to cause damage to the small intestine’s villi.
Experts estimate that the percentage of the general population in the United States who has celiac disease is as high as 1%. There is no cure for the disease. Over time, strictly avoiding consumption of all gluten sources can improve the symptoms and reduce the associated health risks of celiac disease. Classic symptoms include diarrhea, weight lost and malnutrition. The disease mostly affects people of European descent.
Dermatitis herpetiformis, another gluten-related medical issue, is a severely itchy skin conditions that starts abruptly and affects the elbow, knees, scalp, back and buttocks. In addition to these specific diseases, people may also have allergies or intolerances to gluten.
Currently, the FDA is developing a definition for gluten-free. In April, it completed a public commentary phase regarding this work. Once the definition is established, the FDA will make this information available for voluntary labeling of foods and will enforce label claims regarding gluten-free products.
Currently, the world’s only conferring body regarding gluten-free products is the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (www.gfco.org), which launched in 2005. To date, it has certified more than a dozen manufacturers’ food products. An independent service, GFCO supervises gluten-free food production according to a consistent, defined, science-based standard that is confirmed by field inspections. The practices of GFCO are reviewed by the group’s scientific and professional board. Eight steps are required for products to be certified as gluten-free. For a complete list of certified products, visit www.gfco.org/products.
About the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO)
The GFCO seeks to improve the health of those living on a gluten-free diet by providing a system that ensures standards based on sound scientific research. The organization provides simplified consumer identification of gluten-free foods based upon the presence of the GF Certification Mark on product labels. This mark is known as the gluten-free standard for consumers, making it easier for them to maintain their health and lifestyles. The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) is a program of The Gluten Intolerance Group®, which was founded in 1974 and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
About San-J International
Based in Richmond, Virginia, where San-J brews its premium Tamari according to an ancient Japanese family recipe, San-J International continues eight generations of tradition and product excellence. Offering an assortment of traditional and organic varieties of Tamari, San-J also makes a broad range of products such as salad dressings, instant Japanese soups, and rice crackers that incorporate the company’s outstanding Tamari. San-J’s complete line of six cooking sauces includes Japanese Steak Marinade, Teriyaki, Asian BBQ, Hot & Spicy Szechuan, Thai Peanut and tropical Sweet & Tangy. Gourmet Magazine recently favored San-J’s Tamari and praised it for being “well-balanced” in its December 2006 issue. For more information on San-J International and its variety of products, please visit www.san-j.com.